Its a small world after all

We are starting to think this adventuring thing is pretty good for us. When we started this road trip, we thought that we might get bored. We thought that we might run out of things to do and see. We actually thought that we would be racing back to the boat after a month or two and that we would be itching to get back on the high seas. Well, I have a little bit of news for you...there is way more stuff out there to see and do than we can fit into a lifetime. We are starting to realize that even with Brenda's super walking powers and my big muscles, we are no match for everything this world has to offer. We are however doing our best to experience everything humanly possible.

Which brings me to where we are today. We are now sitting in the Grand Staircase of Escalante National Monument. This is a place that I have never heard of. It is the largest public landmass other than Yellowstone in the lower 48 that is open for exploration and recreation by the general public (you and me). At 1.7 million acres, it's huge...and it's remote. There are a couple of highways that surround the land and there are primitive roads crossing the land but a lot of them are only passable by a high clearance 4 wheel drive vehicle (which we now have). These primitive roads take you out into the serious boonies. If you decide to take one of these primitive roads, be prepared to fend for yourself because no one is coming out to rescue you.

We have been exploring some of the “slot canyons” in the region for the past handful of days and have heard through the grapevine that the longest slot canyon in the world is in Escalante. Slot canyons are basically a tight little canyon that is just like what it sounds like...a slot. They are narrow. Some of these canyons can be just 3 feet wide at the top and drop hundreds of feet to the floor below. We need to see this bad boy so we load up the SUV with all of our needed gear, food, fill her up with gas, and head out on one of these primitive roads out into the boonies.

This little gem of a canyon is pretty far out there. It's about 65 miles from where we are camping. 65 miles on primitive roads will let you know if you have any loose fillings in your teeth. It will also make you wonder if this is really a good idea to go that far into the boonies with no backup if trouble arises. Of course its a good idea.

To get into some of these canyons can be a bit of a chore. Besides the hours of bone rattling driving, you may have miles of hiking to get to the access point of the canyon. Once you get to the access point, the only way to get into some of these canyons is by rappelling down the sheer cliffs to the floor below. Once you are into the canyon, there is no way out except by hiking the length of the canyon to where it opens up. And then when you are out of the canyon at the bottom end, you still have to figure out a way to get back to your car.

In the last week, we have been through 4 pretty large slot canyons (and we took a detour through Bryce Canyon...which is a whole other story). All were pretty amazing adventures that we were able to make it through in a big long day. This big daddy canyon was a little more than we could safely navigate in a day so it would involve camping out in the canyon overnight. There are a series of rappels, down climbs, and obstacles that would have to be navigated to make it through the canyon. When you are through the 13 1/2 miles of canyon, you still have a handful of miles to hike to get back to your car. It's definitely a 2 day adventure.

The problem with a 2 day adventure is that the weather has to be payed pretty close attention to. Any chance of rain within a 100 mile radius can be a serious threat. Flash floods ravage these canyons. You can generally see on the canyon walls the water line from the last flood. Some of these waterlines can be 20-30 feet up the sides of the canyon which would leave you no escape. Since we don't really want to end our lives just yet, we pay pretty close attention to the weather. The weather forecast looks clear for the next 2 days, but on days 3 through 5, there is a big front coming through that is supposed to drop rain, snow, and thunderstorms on us. Not a good place to be on day 3 if the forecast is correct.

This past summer on the boat taught us a couple of really important things. First, how to read the weather by looking at the clouds in the sky and secondly, 99% of the time, the weather forecast seems to be 100% wrong. We got all the way out to the big daddy of them all slot canyon and notice the clouds in the sky telling us that there is weather coming our way. The forecast seems to be off by a day. Again, since we aren't ready to end our lives just yet, we decide to abandon our conquering of the canyon for today and do some reconnaissance for a trip on another day. We end up hiking around the rim of the canyon and peering into the depths below and figuring out how to safely accomplish the conquering. While we are out in the boonies, we stop by a couple of other nearby canyons and check them out. They are pretty amazing. Turns out that being in the boonies is petty fun, even if we don't accomplish the goal we set out to set.

Back to Bryce Canyon. We just ran into our good friends and ex-neighbors Bob and Sherry at the Bryce Canyon visitors center. These people left our dock a few years ago and sailed their boat to Alaska and then all the way down to Mexico where they spent about a year and a half exploring the country before sailing back to Seattle. We haven't seen these people in a long time. It just so happens that they are visiting Bryce Canyon on the very exact moment that we are visiting Bryce Canyon. Pretty amazing. It also turns out that they have been on the same path as us for the last few weeks and have been in the same places that we have been at the same times as us...we just never crossed paths. Pretty incredible. We had a great time catching up while hiking around the Canyon. It's definitely a small world and it was really fun to see them.

We are going to be hanging out in Escalante for a few more days to see if the weather cooperates for a trek down the big canyon. After that, we have no idea where we are headed. We'll keep you posted.

Can you say Squeeeeeeeeze

Bryce Canyon with Bob and Sherry


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